The Nebraska Supreme Court recently reversed and remanded a Tax Equalization
and Review Commission (TERC) property valuation of land owned by Donald
V. Cain, Jr., reducing the valuation by 47 percent.
The property in question, located in Custer County, covers 10 contiguous
parcels of land totaling 1,093.93 acres of land used exclusively for cattle
grazing and production. Approximately 756 acres of the land is irrigated
native grass that Cain uses to graze cattle, and back in 2006 it was improved
with center pivot irrigation systems in order to enhance the livestock grazing.
David Domina's oral argument.
In 2012, Cain’s property was reassessed and its value was increased
by nearly 250 percent, up to $1,834,925 from $734,968. There were no improvements
to the property made between 2006 and 2012. This dramatic increase was
the result of the Assessor’s decision to adjust irrigated grassland’s
classification for property valuation purposes.
However, Cain was not informed of this change in time to protest the assessment.
After petitioning the TERC directly to determine each parcel of land’s
value, he was granted a hearing.
David Domina's rebuttal.
“Based on our review of the record, we find Cain proved by the greater
weight of the evidence that his irrigated grassland property was not comparable
to the vast majority of the high quality farming land within market area
1 and was more comparable to valuations placed on other similar property
in market areas 2 and 3, as well as Cain’s own nonirrigated
property,” the court wrote in its opinion. “As a result, we
find the TERC erred by failing to find Cain carried his burden to prove
by a preponderance of the evidence that the Assessor’s value of
his irrigated grassland property for the 2012 tax year was grossly excessive
and the result of arbitrary or unreasonable action.”
The court ruled that Cain’s property should be valued at $870 per
acre, totaling $951,719.10 for the entire property. Attorney David Domina
of the Domina Law Group represented Cain throughout his appeal. You can
read the court’s full opinion here (PDF).